Rep. Cook gets hearing for his bill before House committee
This could be decision day on whether state legislators are in the mood to expand the rights of people with permits to carry concealed handguns.
State Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, has introduced a bill to allow permit holders to bring their guns into liquor establishments.
His proposal, House Bill 137, is to be heard Tuesday afternoon by the House Business and Industry Committee.
Cook said in an interview last month that his constituents want the state permit law expanded for safety reasons.
He said those carrying concealed handguns are most vulnerable to an accident when disarming themselves or holstering a handgun. Having to remove a gun before going to dinner at a restaurant heightens the safety problem, he said.
"The Association of District Attorneys states that allowing persons to take their guns into full-service bars and night clubs could result in other cases, some of which might be very serious if people under the influence of liquor have immediate access to their firearms."
And this from the state Department of Public Safety: "Most police departments have policies that either discourage or prohibit their off-duty officers from carrying handguns into bars, particularly if the officer anticipates consuming alcoholic beverages.
"There is no limitation placed on the civilian concealed-carry permit holder by this bill addressing consumption of alcoholic beverages by the permit holder, nor would there be a realistic way to enforce such a provision even if it were in the bill..."
Cook, an attorney, introduced legislation two years ago that would have allowed people with permits for concealed handguns to bring their firearms to public schools, college campuses, liquor establishments, state parks and onto buses.
Gov. Susana Martinez, also a Republican, disagreed with his bill, notably the section for guns in schools. His measure died a quick death in a committee.
He is back with a reduced version of his original bill at a time when the whole country is debating firearms laws because of mass murders last year of children in a Newtown, Conn., school and movie patrons at a theater in Aurora, Colo.
“I’m not completely tone deaf. I know the recent tragedies have heightened sensitivities, but I hope we can have a rational conversation about this,” Cook said.
**A VOTER ID BILL that was scheduled to be heard Tuesday was held back again at the request of the sponsor, Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad.
It is only a matter of time until her proposal, House Bill 103, is buried by the House Voters and Elections Committee.